How cold does your 3-way fridge get on 110?

Discussion in 'Refrigerators and Coolers' started by Orchid, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    If it gets to a food safe temperature, how long does it take?

    I'm going to run a last test on ours before ditching it for a small, electric freezer. I can't remember how long I've ran it on electric before giving up. It won't light on propane at all and sick of fooling with it.

    If it takes more than 24 hours to cool down to safe temps, for others, I may buy a fridge thermometer and put it to the test before kicking it to the curb. I feel like 24 hours is about the longest we've ever had it plugged in before. Usually just use it for a dry foods cabinet.
  2. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    I plug mine in a day or two before packing. It gets to food safe temps in that time. I run mine on 110 all the time, I have never used the propane. I have a small thermometer that I use to monitor the temps as well.
    Orchid likes this.
  3. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    I can plug mine in the evening and it is usually under 30 degrees the next morning.
    Fbird, theseus and Orchid like this.
  4. crackerJack

    crackerJack Active Member

    Jan 6, 2014
    Scottsville, KY
    Three way refrigerator temps are relative to the actual outdoor temperature. Mine will do about 30-40 degrees below the actual temperature. I have a done a baffle mod and added a fan. It is about the same running on AC, DC, and LP.

    This topic has confused a lot of people. For someone up north, there fridge might work great year round. For someone in the south, they can't understand why theirs is a piece of junk.

    In my region, it is only food safe in the fall, spring, and winter. I'm the summer, we bring a cooler and use the fridge for drinks only.

    Spider cocoons have stopped up the lp orifice on several occasions. It is simple to clean out.
    Orchid likes this.
  5. nhlakes

    nhlakes Active Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    DE and NH
    My 3 way fridge will freeze stuff on propane if set too high. I use a remote temp gauge in the fridge, so I can keep an eye on the temp from house as I am packing up, then from the truck while on an all day drive - as well as in the camper while setup. Works great. As stated above, it's all relative to outside temps, so this is especially important for us when heading south in the winter since outside temps can go from freezing to 80F. Prior to loading the fridge I usually put some ice blocks in the fridge to cool it down much faster.

    Note that the in the pic below the fridge was not turned on. I initially velcro'ed the gauge here but later opted to keep it mobile on its stand.

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  6. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I can only turn on the fridge when I get to my campsite which is usually after 4 or 5, it is cool enough for some foods non critical floods just before bed and in the morning I can start putting my other food inside. However unless I'm only staying a few days, I don't trust my meat in there as it defrosts too quickly. So I still keep a separate cooler To keep the items I want to keep frozen. If you don't dry camp, it may be worth the extra weight of a small portable fridge. I know my old college dorm fridge even had a small freezer. i knew I could trust my food in there whereas I don't quite trust my fridge if it's really hot out, at least on electricity. I haven't tried it on propane yet as I couldn't dry camp until I got my battery and plumbing working.
  7. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

    May 7, 2013
    Somewhere in Idaho
    Same as many others. I turn it on a day or two and it will keep the temps down to around 34. I usually have it set around 3 on the dial. When traveling I then run it on DC and for most of my trips it can keep it below 35 with no problem. When camped, it is on propane and even in 90 degree weather, I can freeze up the inside if I leave it on high so I usually adjust it between low and medium.
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Our Tucson friends have a large-ish 3-way 'fridge in their Casita. They usually bring it home the day before they leave, plug it in, and are able pack it the next morning. They have meds that have to stay frozen or refrigerated, so safety is a big concern for them. They don't camp at 100 degrees, but they seem to do OK with packing at that temp.
    They had been running it on 12v on the road, but discovered their TV could not seem to cope with both the battery charger and 'fridge, that blew a fuse. They now do as we do, and run it on LP on the road.
    Our 'fridge is 2-way, and is the larger size installed in 2015 Retro 177 models. On electric, it can be down to temp in a hour, or it may take most of a day. The sun beats right on the side of the camper where the 'fridge is located. Adding blue ice packs to both freezer and refrigerator sections, and using the Valterra 'fridge fan helps a lot. Also helpful is starting it late int he evening, so it has a chance to get to temp before the sun hits it the next day. Once to temp, as long as it's plugged in or on LP, it stays well in the safe regions.
  9. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

    May 7, 2013
    Somewhere in Idaho
    One way to increase the efficiency of the fridge is to add a fan(s) to the cooling fins at the top of the fridge. This area is accessed under the vents just above the cover you take off to adjust the fridge. I added a fan that turns on/off at 100 degrees and had helped to keep the fridge temps down on those hot days.
  10. Aneemal33

    Aneemal33 Active Member

    Aug 25, 2016
    We take a lot of short trips and toss 6-8 bottles of water in the freezer a day before we head out. They go in the cooler to keep things cold on the way to the campsite. When we get there, we usually buy a bag of ice and put that in the cooler (we have a Yeti, so one bag will doya :) ). We then put 4-6 bottles in the fridge and light it. The frozen bottles cool the fridge down fast so we can put food in there. By morning, the fridge has taken over, and we can pull the waters out, let them thaw, and drink them.
  11. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    I tend to put frozen meat and COLD beer in the fridge which would speed up the cooling to desired temp in about an hour.
  12. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Do you mean the actual outdoor temperature, or the temp inside the camper with the a/c on? Since we live in Florida, it's going to be a no-go in summer for sure if goes by outdoor temp.
  13. SteveP

    SteveP Active Member

    May 21, 2015
    We don't keep drinks in the fridge so it only gets opened a couple of times a day. It maintains low 40s temps in the Texas summer heat running on AC, on propane I have to set it back to medium after the first few hours or things freeze. I put in a baffle but no fan.
  14. crackerJack

    crackerJack Active Member

    Jan 6, 2014
    Scottsville, KY
    Actual outdoor temperature.

    The fridge doesn't add cool air. It actually cools, by removing heat. Warm air enters the bottom vent and rises out the top vent, pulling heat out of the coils. Because of a pop up camper design, the distance between the two vents is short. That limits the process. Travel trailer refrigerators are taller, so they work much better.
    Adding a baffle will direct more of the air across the coils. Adding a fan will help move more air as well.

    Most ,not all, people who say their fridge works great live in mild climates or have a full size/tall fridge.
    Mine works great, except a few trips in the middle of summer. On those occasions we deal with the PITA of a cooler and ice.
    Orchid, JPBar and sierrapup like this.
  15. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Earlier this year, while camped near Tucson, I saw a large TT or RV with a Reflectix awning or canopy sheltering the 'fridge area. It was secured on the top just above the 'fridge and stake out at the bottom, so there was plenty of air circulation, but the sun wasn't beating directly on the 'fridge.
    So far, ours works well into the 100-105 range, though takes longer to cool off if we turn it on at that point. it isn't the small size of pup ones, though not the largest Dometic. However, we run it on LP on the road, since it does not hold cold well. I forgot to turn it back on after a fuel stop today (it was a long day with tire replacement and lots of construction). After three hours in mid-60s, no sun, it is just barely at the safe level and my ice cream is soft (it's in the 20s in the freezer).
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
    Orchid likes this.
  16. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    I lived in the Deep South with high 90's and my 3way refrigerator never had trouble staying cold even on the hottest days. I do have a battery run fan inside the fridge to even out the insides. It would hit 40 degrees within 6 hrs of being turned on. That was my Palomino's Dometic.

    The current Coleman's Norcold is more finicky. It takes over night, but it will freeze food too.

    These refrigerators aren't like thermoelectric coolers. 40 below outside temperatures is not all they can do. The key to great refrigerator performance is heat removal from the back of the unit. Some have installed fans to push more air in around the fins. Others have replaced the vents with bigger ones. If my current Norcold wasn't able to keep up, I'd install a fan in the back...
    Orchid and xxxapache like this.
  17. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Thanks for the info. Our TT fridge works just as well as our home one, on electric. I always just figured it was a higher quality unit, but that makes sense.

    Since this one won't light with propane, and I don't want to put any money into it, or the work of adding a fan, this justifies my decision to replace it with a small freezer. Freezers that size are only a bit over $100 and we really need the freezer space more than anything.

    Just needed some additional input on the current fridge situation before I felt good about doing it. We will always live and camp in Florida, with hook ups. In the event that we go somewhere off grid (doubtful,) we will just use coolers. Thanks again.
  18. davido

    davido Active Member

    Jul 17, 2014
    After installing a 140mm computer case fan to exhaust from the rear baffles, mine performs well enough that it can (given enough time -- like about an eon or two) freeze water. The fins inside the fridge would even frost up sometimes until I added one of those D-cell Camco circulation fans inside the fridge.

    Before installing that exhaust fan, the fridge was almost useless in the summer time whether using propane or electricity.

    My 140mm fan is noisier than I care for. And I seem to have installed its thermal switch too close to the fridge's chimney, where it stays hot enough that it never shuts off. I plan to re-do the installation one of these days, with two low-vibration, low-noise 140mm fans side by side, and a thermal switch mounted further away from the chimney. I also purchased a little fan controller that will let me adjust the speed so that I can run them at a quieter level, but it was some cheap import that came with no instructions for what the various jumpers and pots do. :(
  19. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Jul 18, 2013
    Thornville, OH
    great. more details where and how you mounted the fan?? We start to lose temp when the outside is in the high 80's. At 90 degrees we are in the low 40's. Would like to add a fan if i can keep the fridge from creeking up.
  20. DiamondGirl

    DiamondGirl Active Member

    My 3 way fridge can reach 31° or less on 110. And the freezer sometimes go below zero. It does take overnight to reach those temps on 110 power. I live in the AZ desert climate so it’s hot most of the time. I prep the Aliner by cooling down the fridge the night prior to leaving. In addition, I freeze my meats prior to leaving. Then I run the fridge on propane at the campsite. It uses very little propane but is more efficient than 110. But 110 works too if full hookups are available.

    When my fridge isn’t running cool enough, it’s because the internal thermostat was accidentally moved. Be sure to check the internal thermostat inside the fridge. Adjust it to the temperature you prefer. My thermostat is located on the left side of the fridge.

    I keep the external setting on the front outside top panel below the plastic see thru cover of the fridge set to coldest #5.

    DH added a fan mod to help lower temps by cooling down the backside. This also helps too.

    I monitor fridge/freezer temps via a wireless remote temperature gauge. I don’t have to open the fridge to see what the current temperature is. And I can monitor temps from inside my house or truck. This unit is very helpful and has worked well for us. No more opening and closing the fridge to confirm temperatures.

    Good luck.

    Happy Camping...[ALPU][PUT]

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